Previously on Victoria: King Leopold comes to visit, which doesn’t do much to dissolve the tension flying around Victoria’s court. In fact, it probably makes it worse, given that he doesn’t recognize Feodora, his own niece, and is a witness to the increasing problems between his son/nephew and the queen, who continue to argue about everything from their son’s head shape to public opinion about some leaked family drawings to Feodora’s motivations. (Which, to the surprise of no one, turned out to be fairly selfish and petty.) Read our full recap of "A Coburg Quartet" here.
Since Season 3 is rapidly hurtling toward its conclusion, it makes sense that Victoria (finally) has to spend some time mending the rift between Victoria and Albert that it’s pretty much devoted all season to creating. That it does so rather deftly is true, complete with one of the couple’s standard over the top romantic scenes involving a chase through the rain. And in most ways, the resolution of the tension between them comes as a relief, because let’s be honest, this show isn’t nearly as much fun when the two are in constant conflict in this way.
That said, however, I’m going to stand firm on the fact that I don’t think this reunion does as much as it should to redeem Albert, who’s spent most of this season calling his wife an idiot and just roughly fifteen minutes before they make up, compares Victoria to a child. A simple I’m sorry goes a long way, bucko! Maybe admit you were wrong about the Ireland trip, or Bertie, or Feo, or, well, anything?
(But before anyone takes to the comments to yell at me, I’m still glad it happened, and it was probably at least two episodes overdue.)
Victoria, at least, makes something of an effort, reaching out to her sister and attempting to be magnanimous, though it’s a look that fits her rather poorly. But, she does walk the walk, inviting – and likely more importantly, paying for – her niece Heidi to come visit. (Even though all she clearly wants is for Feodora to get out of her house.) The two have several awkward conversations about their mutually terrible childhoods, and though Feo also never actually apologies either for any macro issues like trying to turn Albert against Victoria or smaller slights like calling her stupid in public, things seem to be improving between them. I suppose queens often have to be the bigger person in circumstances but sheesh.
Get some extra dessert at dinner after all that, girl.
Anyway, Victoria ultimately decides to support Albert’s dream of a great exhibition that showcases the best of the world’s industry from all nations, and understands that she has to embrace his love of weird attempts at modernization, even if a different man probably would have just accepted her attempt to put him in charge of the army. It is nice to see Albert acting a bit more like himself, however, and this subplot serves as a reminder of what was initially appealing about the character in the first place. (Even the fact that his insistence on modernity and progress can occasionally come off as insufferable when he really gets in the moment. It’s his thing.)
Albert’s obsession with the idea of the exhibition also reminds Victoria what she loves about him too, and spurs her to chase him through the rain to tell him so. It’s like five seconds from the Notebook, in the end, but it’s sweet, it recalls their Season 1 courtship in a way and at least it finally (hopefully?) means the end of the aggressive tension between the two of them. We can dream, I suppose.
Spoiler alert: Albert’s grand plans turn out okay in the end though, as gardener and architect Joseph Paxton ultimately helps Albert to design the Crystal Palace, a massive iron and glass structure three times the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, which would ultimately become the first of the World’s Fairs.
A personal and completely unrelated note on this episode: My crush on Lord Palmerston is fully alive and well, and I can’t believe I have to admit to this after how much I despised him in the season’s first episode?? His plot this week isn’t particularly noteworthy, except in the fact that it proves his popularity as Foreign Secretary isn’t bulletproof. But he’s so darn charming, his mere existence seems worth a mention. Now give me his wife back, show!
Elsewhere, Sophie and Hunky Footman Joseph’s romance continues, though they’re definitely not good at keeping things on the down low as they think they are. Sophie’s garbage husband has already guessed what’s up, and he’s working on bribing Penge to inform on his wife’s illicit activities. Poor Emma Portman, once again stuck shepherding a woman in love with an unsuitable man, tries to explain what’s at risk for Sophie, should anyone discover her affair. She’ll lose her fortune and her child and be left with nothing.
For his part, Joseph wants the two of them to run away to America – a twist that would mean abandoning the aforementioned and obviously much loved son, which I guess is just not a huge thing for him. And that’s not his only garbage move this week, as it turns out that this isn’t the first time he’s romanced a duchess – and took some money to stay silent about their affair. One has to wonder – and presumably Sophie does – if he’d ditch her just for some fast cash when given the chance.
(Of course, Joseph certainly seems trustworthy and honorable enough now, but, well. Clearly, not always. Though if you ask me Victoria’s leaving it a bit late to try and give the hot footman anything approaching an actual personality.)
At any rate, our poor Sophie is struggling with what to do, not wanting to lose everything she has, insisting her love for her downstairs beau is legit, and getting nothing but advice to watch herself from her friends. Unfortunately, she waffles for a bit too long, and her monster husband has time to drag in some guys from the local sanatorium to try and have her committed.
On what grounds, we’ll likely have to wait until next week to find out – but this is the Victorian era. Monmouth’s a man, he’s rich, and he’s Sophie’s husband. It’s not like he would have to work very hard to get the law to take his side. Even the insinuation that she’s been sleeping with the help would probably do. Unless you’re literally Victoria in this story, you don’t have a lot of power. And as the episode ends with Sophie screaming, being dragged off by a gang of strange men to an unknown fate, well, that’s pretty easy to see.
What did you think of this episode of Victoria? Thumbs up or down on the Vicbert reunion?